[Mass for ADDU Alumni/ae. Assumption Chapel. 30 December, 2019]
There are many reasons for coming together on this day, the 30th of December.
The first is Sanjo Dakudao. Without the usufruct agreement with him that allowed us to build on his property in exchange for the use of some of our new built-up space, the new Community Center of the First Companions, the Martin Hall, and this University Chapel would never have been built. On this day, Sanjo passed away participating in a basketball game. This fourth anniversary of his death, we recall his memory and his generosity gratefully.
On this same day four years ago, we blessed this University Chapel in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption. This chapel has since been among the greatest of God’s recent gifts to us in ADDU community. It is a space that unites us with the multiple cultures of Mindanao. But it is all the more a space which affords us silence and solitude for prayer to the compassionate Father, or to his Son Crucified for us on the Cross, or to the Spirit that reconnects us with our deepest selves – where our will in discernment is most profoundly conjoined with that of the Father. This chapel has since also developed a liturgical culture that is solemn yet intimate, communal yet personal. It is our university’s most sacred space. Today we remember its consecration four years ago by Abp. Romulo Valles gratefully.
It was to this chapel that our Dr. Arni Clamor came for daily Mass. She always sat in the second row on the left side of the chapel. From there, between her classes here at ADDU and in the St. Alfonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI), she prayed in silence before her crucified Lord and united herself with the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. She was a formidable teacher who stretched her students to open themselves to the importance of rigorous theological reflection in today’s world and to be better versions of themselves. Many of you have been her students or her colleagues. Yesterday, the Lord called her back to himself. From this chapel, we now pray for her: that the Lord grant her eternal rest.
December 30th, of course, is the day of the traditional ADDU alumni and alumnae Homecoming, the day that Blue Knights all, from all over the world, come home to their alma mater. Over the years this has happened in many venues: in this Jacinto campus, in the Matina campus, in Azuela Cove, and this evening, again in the Convention Center of SMX Lanang. Coming home to one’s alma mater is not necessarily coming home to a single place, but coming home to many dear friends and mentors, many precious memories of formation and friendship, of discovery and growth, of dreams and fulfillment. Ateneans come home to deeply engraved ADDU ideals of excellence and being women or men for others. But also to one’s personal commitment to faith, as one’s conscience may dictate: for most of us, to the Roman Catholic faith, but for others to other faiths as well. At ADDU there is a cherished value of being strong in faith, fortes in fide, our university motto. It is in this context that we have decided to restore to the ADDU Annual Homecoming also the opportunity to come home to Ateneo de Davao in this chapel through a Eucharistic Celebration, without which coming home to ADDU would be homeless. Recalling other ideals of Jesuit education like magis, cura personalis, social justice, generosity, eloquentia et sapientia would have no mooring unless anchored in faith. At ADDU, education was never only about excellent personal or professional education; it was also always about education and formation towards being liberally educated persons strong in the faith: fortes in fide.
On the fourth day within the octave of Christmas, on the anniversary of the blessing of this chapel in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption, the patroness of the school, it would have been possible for us to offer a votive Mass of Our Lady of the Assumption. Ateneans know: “never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her aid, or sought he intercession was left unaided.” But, knowing that Mary also always leads us to her Son, I have chosen the votive Mass of Christ the King, since Christ the King is the center of our chapel, and presumably the center of our lives as ADDU alumni. As Blue Knights we now sing, “Men and women , knights in blue, for Christ, King, fight strong and true. … Let all you knights of Davao to God’s high command your hearts bow…!” The most appropriate image of Christ the King, as you know, is the Crucified Lord on the Cross. Hopefully, it is also the image etched in your heart that you take home from ADDU or take wherever life leads you. On his Cross, he was lifted up for our sake. On his Cross, he lifted us to himself, and believing in him he lifted us up redeemed to his loving Father. That happens at this Mass when he takes the bread, says the blessing, and says, “Take this. Eat it. Make it yours. This is my Body.” Then he takes the cup filled with wine, says the blessing, then says, “Take this. Drink this. This is my Blood of the new and eternal covenant poured out for you.”
Coming home to Ateneo de Davao you come home to your response to three questions before the Crucified Lord gazing from his Cross at his image in your hearts from your image indelibly etched in his, “If you have done this for me in love, Lord what have I done for you? What am I doing for you? What ought I do for you?”
Remember what the Lord said in our Gospel reading, “Whatever you have done – or not done – to one of these the least of my sisters and brothers, that you have done – or not done – to me” (cf Mt. 25:31-46).
Perhaps, at this Mass, looking at the Crucified Lord, you may with St. Ignatius wish to renew an old commitment you made, long ago. “Take and receive, O Lord, my liberty. Take all my will, my mind, my memory. All things I hold and all I own are thine. Thine was the gift. To thee I all resign.” But also take St. Ignatius’ advice. Be very, very reverent when you make such an offering of your free will. God does listen to your prayers. He does take to heart your self-offerings. And he does accept them. And it will cost you. But for you, it may be the beginning of the ”life to the full” (cf. John 10:10) that he comes to you to bring.
Message to the Alumni/ae of Ateneo de Davao University
I am very happy we have been able to celebrate Eucharist together this morning and now to come together for this sale-salo. I thank my sister, Lelen, and her team from Knights’ Table for the Yahung Arroz Caldo. Yahung in Ilonggo is an empty bowl. It is a symbol of ourselves that the Lord fills with his life to the full. I thank all who have contributed to this celebration of his bounty.
I have five points to share with you this morning:
- Thank you for coming this morning. Let us make it a habit each year, on December 30, the morning of the day of the ADDU Alumni Homecoming, to come home to this Mass and simple table fellowship. Strong in our faith, fortes in fide, we come home to the Eucharistic Celebration of our faith to give thanks.
- Coming home to one’s alma mater means coming home to the values that have defined us through our education and formation at Ateneo de Davao. For many, this is the challenge to excellence and to being men and women for others. For others, these are the values associated with being ADDU sui generis leaders: leaders shaped by vision and mission of the university: a deep faith, a lived life of faith, a commitment to social justice especially in Mindanao, a commitment to wealth creation and its equitable distribution, sensitivity to cultures, esp. the multiple cultures of Mindanao, openness to religious diversity and inter-religious dialogue, and commitment to the integrity of creation.
- We are interested in your experiences as sui generis leaders and in your feedback, on the education and formation, you received here at ADDU. WE want to know how we can collaborate more in implementing the vision and mission of ADDU. We want to know how ADDU can help you in implementing your mission as sui generis leaders? The ADDU Alumni Affairs Office will mediate this ongoing dialogue.
- Whether you graduated from ADDU 50 or more years ago, 25 years ago or just within the last decade or so, we are certain you have discovered that learning and the need to learn do not stop with graduation. With rapid changes in science and technology, learning is increasingly less degree centric and more focused on what is actually needed in what you are now experiencing in society. It is for this reason that ADDU has put up the ADDU-Academy of Lifelong Learning (ADD-ALL) now headed by Ms. Ayessa Velaquez-Pastoril. We are interested in how ADD-ALL can better serve you.
- ADDU was founded in 1948. Last year it turned 70, and today we are launching the collaborative history of ADDU published by Tambara under the leadership of Dr. Rey Pilapil and UPO under the leadership of Mr. Mac Tiu. Over the years, ADDU has grown from a small basic education school for boys to the university it now is. While today it welcomes any help government can give it through the various educational programs of government that support Filipino citizens in private education, ADDU has always been and always will be a private school, dependent for its services and its growth on the support of the private sector through such as tuition, fees, and donations. This year, ADDU has started a fundraising campaign to support its further growth. I would like to invite you to consider its various packages of giving but especially its A-1 scholarship program, by making a commitment, or renewing your commitment, to supporting scholars at ADDU through a one-peso (or more) contribution every day for the rest of your lives.
Finally, in the name of the Jesuit Community and the entire University Community of ADDU, I wish you and all your loved ones all of God’s blessings in the New Year.